The monthly news round-up, brought to you by the BMF
We had sad news this month, with the death of Phil Read OBE, one of Britain’s most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with eight world championships to his credit, eight TT wins and a staggering 121 Grand Prix podiums. He maintained his interest in bikes almost to the end, attending the Festival of 1,000 Bikes in July, meeting fans and signing photos.
It was a good season for mass rides, with thousands of riders converging on the National Memorial Arboretum for ‘Ride to the Wall’ to commemorate members of the UK’s armed forces. The week before, over 400 bikers rode to Dorset’s famed Jurassic coast, raising over £8,000 for the DocBike charity, which supports the local air ambulance and offers training in first aid and advanced riding. And for those who fancied a longer ride, the London to Dakar Enduro was still open for motorcycle entries – not cheap at £6,850, but quite an adventure…
Good news from the Department for Transport this month, and welcomed by the BMF, in that motorcycle casualties fell in 2021 – both fatal and serious injuries, to the lowest level since 2012. We don’t want to be party poopers, but it does partly reflect the fact that bikers were riding less, with mileage down 5.2% compared to 2019, still in recovery mode after plunging during Covid. Less cheering was the news that the UK has an estimated one million uninsured drivers on our roads, according to Confused.com. Of those caught in recent years, some have had their cars confiscated and crushed – the two millionth uninsured car met this fate in February 2020.
Meanwhile, Smart motorways were criticised for having insufficient emergency laybys (ERAs), intended for broken down vehicles when the hard shoulder is open to traffic. The BMF has had numerous complaints from members on this very issue, especially those on older bikes. “Suffering a puncture on a tubed tyre is bad enough,” said BMF Chair Jim Freeman. “On a smart motorway, where the ERAs are too few, too far apart, it’s terrifying.”
And so, to Lagos, capital of Nigeria, where motorcycle taxis have been banned. This is big news for the city, where hordes of ‘okadas’ work the congested streets every day. Usually Chinese-made 125s, they offer cheap transport for commuters, as well as a job for the crowds of okada riders, in a country facing high unemployment. The city authority’s reasoning was that the okadas cause nearly 50% of accidents, but the result for many taxi riders will be severe hardship. Maybe the answer is Honda’s forthcoming electric moped, which will have pedals to help with hill climbing and getting away from red lights – we can’t see those causing crashes, at least, not through excessive speed.
At the other end of the electric performance spectrum was the news that Zero is joining forces with Hero, the Indian giant making a $60 million investment. It’s a deal which could work well – maybe the result will be less expensive Zeros, made in India.
And finally, the National Motorcycle Council welcomed a new member, Bike Social, to its ranks this month, alongside the BMF, Trail Riders Fellowship, Auto Cycle Union, Vintage Motorcycle Club, IAM Roadsmart, Biketrac and National Motorcycle Dealers Association. No doubt about it – we’re stronger together.
Written by Peter Henshaw – Editor BMF firstname.lastname@example.org